January 28, 2012

Barton escapes Bobcats in overtime, 74-71

Box score

WILSON, N.C. --- Junior Daniel Sepokas (Illawong, Australia) knocked down a pair of clutch three-pointers late in regulation to propel the Lees-McRae College men's basketball team into overtime against Barton College on Saturday evening, as the Bulldogs went on to escape with a 74-71 Conference Carolinas win in the extra period.

Barton (13-5, 5-3 CC) shot 38.4 percent from the floor for the night, including a 48.5 percent clip in the first half, while holding Lees-McRae (5-12, 5-4 CC) to a field goal percentage of 34.5 percent in the contest. The Bulldogs won the battle on the glass by a 53-42 margin, including a 25-15 advantage on the offensive boards, while converting 25 Bobcat turnovers into 23 points.

Freshman BJ Battle (Orlando, Fla.) paced the Bobcats with a game-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including a 4-for-8 night from beyond the arc, as Asad Lamot (Mebane, N.C.) added 11 markers and a contest-best seven assists. Sepokas chipped in 13 points of his own, as DJ Brown (Anderson, S.C.) posted nine markers and a team-high seven rebounds.

Jaren Haley led the way for Barton with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, as Gerald Boston chipped in 13 markers and game-highs of eight rebounds and four steals. Keith Manley added 11 points to go along with contest-bests of eight rebounds and seven blocks, while Evan Shelton poured in 12 markers on 3-of-3 shooting, including a 6-for-6 night from the charity stripe.

Barton jumped out to an early 12-5 lead in the first half, stretching the margin to 31-20 with a 19-15 run that was capped by a Haley lay-in at the 4:08 mark. The Bobcats cut the advantage to 33-25 on a Battle three-pointer with 2:32 to go in the half, as Barton took a 36-27 lead into the intermission.

The Bobcats stormed out of the gate in the second half, trimming the margin to 37-35 with an 8-1 run over the first three and half minutes of the period, capping the spurt with a freebie by DeAndre Tillman (Charlotte, N.C.) following a triple by Battle. Lees-McRae would stay within striking distance for much of the half, not allowing the Bulldogs to open more than a five-point lead until Boston drain a clutch layup with 46 seconds to play, pushing the margin to 65-58.

Sepokas and the Bobcats responded in tremendous fashion, as Lamot and Jeremiah Henry (Semmes, Ala.) each converted a pair of clutch free throws before Sepokas hit the shot of the game with less than 10 seconds left, pulling up from 25 feet out and burying a contested three-pointer to even the score at 65-65 and send the Bobcats into overtime.

The Bobcats took the early lead in overtime, as Tillman knocked down a mid-range jumper at the 3:56 mark before Barton responded with a 6-0 run, claiming a 71-67 advantage on a freebie by Haley with 43 ticks left on the clock. Sepokas then came through in the clutch once again, knocking down another contested three-pointer with 29 seconds left to cut the lead to 71-70.

Barton's free throw shooters proved to be the difference in the game's final moments, as Boston and Joseph Veles each converted from the charity stripe to hold off the Bobcats and earn the 74-71 overtime win for the Bulldogs.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Wednesday, February 1 when the Bobcats travel to Belmont, N.C. to take on Belmont Abbey College in conference play at 7:30 p.m.

- LMC -